Thursday, June 1, 2023

Book Review: Wild Cards - Joker Moon

Theodorus was a dreamer. As a child, he dreamt of airplanes, rockets, and outer space. When the wild card virus touched him and transformed him into a monstrous snail centaur weighing several tons, his boyhood dreams seemed out of reach, but a Witherspoon is not so easily defeated. Years and decades passed, and Theodorus grew to maturity and came into his fortune . . . but still his dream endured.

But now when he looked upward into the night sky, he saw more than just the moon . . . he saw a joker homeland, a refuge where the outcast children of the wild card could make a place of their own, safe from hate and harm. An impossible dream, some said. Others, alarmed by the prospect, brought all their power to bear to oppose him. Theodorus persisted . . .

. . . never dreaming that the Moon was already inhabited. And the Moon Maid did not want company.

Wild Cards: Joker Moon is the twenty-eighth book in the franchise. It was released on July of 2021 by Tor Books. It features the writing of Michael Cassutt, Leo Kenden, David D. Levine, Victor Milan, John Jos. Miller, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Steve Perrin, Christopher Rowe, Walton Simons, Melinda Sndgrass, and Caroline Spector.

On the plus side, this collection of tales stands can stand on its own - a good point for new readers to jump in. While other characters and other events from the franchise are referenced, they are not critical to getting these stories. And, like the last few collection, there is a common theme or element that carries through the stories. Here it is space travel and the moon.

On the down side, a few technical things bothered me. First, the font on the printed book is very small. My old eyes had to really adjust. Also, there are a handful of stories that are told in present-tense while the majority of the collection is in past-tense. If this was just a staight short story collection, it wouldn't have flagged for me. However, these are done as mosaic novels where the hole is very much more than the sum of its parts. When some of the parts are doing is while the rest is doing was, it throws off my reading groove.

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